American special forces could be moving silently through the battlefield in the future, as the Pentagon is currently developing a silent electric motorcycle for them to use called SilentHawk.
The SilentHawk isn't your bog standard electric bike, though, it's a hybrid - much like a Toyota Prius, and can run on petrol, diesel, and even jet fuel. Much like the Prius the SilentHawk recharges its own batteries when it's running on fuel.
The SilentHawk is a collaboration between Logos Technologies, who build military equipment such as drones, and American electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors,
"Because they're motorcycles and they're relatively small, you can put several of these in the back of a V-22 and they could be dropped off somewhere," said Doug Rombough, VP of Business Development for Logos Technologies. "They could go 50 miles, and when they get within 10 miles of an objective, they could shut off that multi-fuel engine, and go all-electric—the only noise [they] will produce at that point will be the noise of the tires on the surface and or the chain of the motorcycle."
Using the petrol engine the SilentHawk isn't particularly silent, producing 75dB, but when only the electric motor is used that drops to just 55dB, about the level of a conversation. "Literally the loudest thing is the chain, and it's possible for us to outfit a belt, though there's a whole host of reasons for why you wouldn't want a belt on a dirt bike," said Dzwill, speaking to Popular Science. "If you get a rock in there, it's very likely that you'll rip the belt up, but if you're in a sandy location like the desert, it's possible you could use a belt and be fine."
As well as using hybrid technology, the SilentHawk also has two-wheel drive to help with traction over rough terrain. The aim now is to make the bike lighter. It currently weighs 350lb (158kg). Logos Technologies and Alta Motors are toying with the idea of removing the liquid-cooled engine and replacing it with an air-cooled item to shed a few pounds.
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